My travel agency was invited to get a first look at Royal Caribbean’s Icon of The Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean has launched the largest-ever cruise ship and they invited some agencies to have a first look on a short sailing through the Bahamas before the inaugural customer sailing. I wasn’t able to attend, so I sent two of my finest travel advisors. They don’t write reviews but I do, so I gathered their photos to share here.
For their short two-night cruise, they enjoyed a Balcony cabin. Everyone was shocked to see that it was reasonably large, and they described it as spacious compared to others they had tried. As the ship is brand new, the finish and amenities were modern and high quality.
We were all surprised to see just how large the shower was in the bathroom which ran the length of it. Most contemporary ships in service still have semi-circular showers barely large enough for an adult to turn around inside. This bathroom was nearly the size of a select-service hotel and our staff were delighted to see the added space.
The Ship Has Everything
Icon of the Seas offers more of everything than any ship every produced. There are 40 restaurants and bars spread throughout the vessel, 15 pools and hot tubs, six record-breaking waterslides.
The mega ship’s sheer size can be exhausting. The ship’s length is just shy of 1200’ or nearly a quarter mile long. Dinner on one end of the ship while staying at the other can be a very long walk – great if you’re hitting the buffet to get your metabolism flowing, but not so great to roundtrip a half a mile in heels.
It’s not just the length but the height too. Yes, there are elevators to bring guests up and down the more than 20 decks, but some areas are easiest accessed by stairs especially outside on the upper decks.
There were some missing pieces as this was an industry preview ahead of its maiden voyage. For example, the specialty restaurants were unavailable during the three-day outing so it’s hard to evaluate them properly. There was plenty on offer in the Aquadome and in the traditional banquet-style dining facilities.
This concept is far more than just a ship. If on land, Icon of the Seas would qualify for the sixth-largest hotel in the world at 5,600 berths (including crew lodging.) On top of that, a full-scale water park, more than three dozen restaurants and bars, and it’s floating of course. A few spots weren’t working and crews could be seen making last-minute fixes.
Nearly Sold Out
Most of the ship is already sold out for the next year, especially the most expensive bi-level suites. An analysis of pricing performed by TPG showed that prices have nearly doubled following the hype of the ship (and heavy advertising) over the last year.
Most contemporary cruise lines like Royal rarely sell from the top down, just like airlines usually fill the back of the plane on leisure routes first. Icon is the exception with the most costly suites ($55,000-85,000/week for up to six people) already sold out on nearly all dates until 2025.
Dates for lower-priced rooms are sold out most sailings too with interior rooms running as much as $3,500 on available itineraries.
Our advisors jumped at the chance to check out the largest ship ever built and were impressed by its amenities. Not everything was ready for the public on this behind-the-scenes sneak peek but the ship will be a crowd-pleaser for those looking for a big ship experience. Most will have to wait until 2025 to try it out, and its bi-level family suites have changed the way ships like these sell which is an interesting market shift.
What do you think?